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Richard Kreitner

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Recently, while looking out the window of my apartment, I was transported, body and mind, into the past. I was listening to a record of Civil War-era songs recorded in the early 1970s by a band called The Union Confederacy, which I’d recently purchased online. When the band’s version of “Lincoln and Liberty,” the former Illinois congressman’s campaign anthem in 1860, came on the stereo, I felt myself catapulted back into that tumultuous election season. Abraham...
Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal by Joseph Alexiou (New York University Press)Have you heard a waterway hiss? Have you seen solid poo break asunder and dissolve? No? Well, then: Walk down Brooklyn’s Bond Street, turn onto Douglass, and stop—please—at the water’s edge. That stench that stanks, that fizzling miasma, is the Gowanus Canal, the notoriously toxic channel of chemicals, sludge, rotting mammals and, reportedly, even some actual H2O. It is also, despite all appearances, one of...
Michael Falco and the First Virginia Volunteer Infantry were marching up a knoll in the middle of an empty field, blind to the Union soldiers waiting for them on the other side. When the Rebels reached the crest, five hundred Yankees fired off their muskets all at once. Falco’s friends dropped all around him. “Seeing men piled up in heaps is just disconcerting,“ Falco recently recalled with a shiver. “For three seconds, I was...

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